Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hitting the Bottle

It is nearly impossible to hold a sleeping baby and not want to drift off yourself.


I know this because we're trying to get Nolie to sleep without having a bottle in her crib, and she is seriously pissed off about it, and it's hard for me to deal with because I conk out the minute I try to put her down.  I've been rocking her to sleep, with her Gigi and her bottle, then putting her down in the crib (after rousing myself from my little catnap, that is).  I let her settle for a minute--she tugs furiously on the bottle and sweeps the Gigi back and forth across her face, back and forth--then goes back to sleep.  Then, unfortunately, the oh-so-delicate maneuver of trying to get the bottle out of her hands backfires and she wakes.  Pissed.

I remember a friend with two small kids telling me several months ago to get Nolie holding her own bottle as fast as we could, so that she could put herself to sleep at night.  "You'll never get any rest if she can't hold her own bottle," she said.  I don't think this is true.  Nolie is an excellent sleeper, and up until recently, she'd fuss for a few minutes and then be out. 

But somehow, maybe in the madness of the move, we got in the habit of giving her the bottle in bed.  I'm not sure why I'm so worried about it, except for some vague concerns about her rotting her teeth out, or getting addicted to having messy, nipply beverages in bed (some of my friends still have this problem).  Something just tells me it's going to be bad news down the road.  So the bottle's gonna get yanked soon. 

Just maybe not this week.  Nolie's a roly poly little gal now, scooting around in a gimpy, peg-leg sort of crawl, and she can sit up like it's nobody's business.  So that's got her a little furious, too.  She can sit herself up in her crib automatically, but is not sure how to lay back down.  The bottle seems to soothe her enough that she doesn't automatically sit up.  So we'll wait on the bottle yanking until she's figured out how to lay down.


Addie, who has taken to wearing gorgeous, expensive, real fur coats like the one in this picture (jk) had a welcome-to-school night at her new school tonight, and gave everyone the business.  "Mommy," she came up yelling every few minutes.  "That boy doesn't know my name!"  The indignation.  How dare that two-year-old shoveling sand down his pants not know Addie's name.  What kind of school is this, anyway?

There's also a whole 'nother bit about trying to explain the concept of "allergies" to Addie, who is still convinced she had "chicken pops" a few weeks back, and who is going to have to go in for more allergy testing soon because of her endlessly clogged nasal passages (dear lord, please just don't let her be allergic to the cats.  Let it be the cheese).  But I think it can be summarized thus.  We are in the car again, where all the most interesting conversations happen, and I cuss at a huge garbage truck in front of us that starts backing up, not knowing little old us is behind him.  "Dang it," Addie says.  "I'm allergic to that truck!"  And at that moment, I was too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Don't Be a Hater


Having conversations with a three-year-old is the perfect lesson in mastering the non-sequitur.  Addie is incredibly verbal most of the time, and is learning phrases and terms at an alarming rate (she's currently mastering the word "copycat" and gets it right about 90% of the time, for example.  The other 10% are exemplars of hilarity.  Glad the malaprops gene got passed down).

For example, we had this incredibly deep, and incredibly confusing conversation in the car today: 

"Mom, what does 'hate' mean?"

"The word 'hate,' you mean?"

"Yeah, 'hate!'"

"Well, you've used that word before, right?  It means you really, really don't like something.  But I guess I don't think it's a good word to use very much."

"Why not?"

"Because if you use it to talk about somebody else, it can really hurt their feelings.  I don't know.  I guess I just think there are better words to use."

"Like, 'please?'  And 'thank you'?  Those are good words, right?"

"Uh, yeah.  Those are great words."

"And 'HEY!'  I really like that word.  It's a good word.  'HEY!'" 

"Yep.  'Hey' is a good word, too."

I mean, there are so many levels of brilliance and utter confusion here.  Addie has used the word hate before ("I HATE ranch dressing!").  So I like that she was thinking more about the word today, and about what it means, and that we got a chance to talk about it.

But as my reply suggested, I was confused about how to respond.  I use the word hate now and then, probably--though not usually about ranch dressing--and she's probably heard it at school, too.  Used to discuss, say, fungal foot infections or centipedes, it's probably a decent verb to employ.  But three-year-olds experiment so much, and I guess I don't want Addie to go around talking about how much she hates so-and-so, and I definitely don't want her to say she hates me, her sister, or her dad.  I want to communicate in some way the idea that "hate" as a concept, as a motivator of violent action or hurtful language, is not okay.  I want her to be able to feel angry and express that anger, but hate is such a loaded term.  You see how I overanalyze these things, and then provide long, convoluted answers to my toddler.  No wonder she's confused.

Then, though, all this became moot as the conversation took the turn into good words, which for Addie means manners.  We're talking a lot about saying please and thank-you at the moment, mostly because her demands have, like, tripled in the last few weeks, and we're tired of being ordered around.  Apparently we want to be ordered around politely.

All of this could have led into an interesting discussion about what we mean by "good" words, or about manners.  But no.  We veered into the land of words that Addie likes, and apparently "hey" is at the top of that list.  I could also add "last day" (which precedes every sentence and is meant as a substitute for "yesterday."  Addie has no sense of time yet, but an incredible memory nonetheless) and "just kidding!" which Addie is saying now every time she says or does something she knows she's going to get in trouble for.  "Addie, did you knock over your glass of juice on purpose?" I'll say, threateningly.  "Just kidding, mom!"  And she'll scamper off into the other room, laughing maniacally.

And just this week, Nolie started saying "no" (in baby, this is "nuh").  And we're off.  Adventures in Language Acquisition Land ride now boarding.  Tickets please.  Fasten your seatbelts, gentlemen.  It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Out of the Frying Pan, In Front of the Fire


I woke up this morning, all shaky and headachey from crying so hard last night, once Eric got home, and I told him the whole thing, completing dissolving into the trauma of it all.  "You saved her," he said to me, holding me, and that made me feel a thousand times better and also sent me into a gale of tears again.  So half the day was my own little version of post-traumatic stress disorder, recovering from such a near-miss.

Luckily, things improved a whole lot from there.  We decided just to have a family day, and kicked it around the house.  We mowed and weed-whacked and bought a fire pit for the backyard.  We put on crazy dance music and made play-dough and went grocery shopping.  For the first time in months, I could feel the stress and tension of the move and the semester and every other little thing begin to ooze out of my body.  I laid on the patio, the girls crawling all over me, and just watched the leaves dancing in the breeze.

We got both girls to sleep tonight, lit the fire, and just hung out together, chatting and zoning out into the embers.  What a perfect day, really.  I am overcome with gratitude, again and again, that this was our today.

Thanks to everyone who called or emailed, and to all my chicas at for the comments and support.  You all are the best.  Addie goes into the doc tomorrow for allergy testing, and we'll see if they want to do an x-ray then, just in case she's got a whole change purse rattling around in there.  Keep you posted.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hazards (Choking, and Others)

I had to do the Heimlich Maneuver on Addie tonight.  Three times.  Hard.  That moment--what was it, seven seconds maybe?--between the time I heard her (bloodcurdling) scream and the time the quarter flew out of her mouth and on to the bathroom floor was the most terrifying moment of my life.  Easy.

We went to a barbecue today at some friends of Eric's, his bandmates.  He's still there, as I'm typing, playing drums, probably, and hanging out.  He doesn't know about all this yet.  I brought the girls home around six so they could have baths and some down time before bed.  I put Addie into her bed a little before 8, with some books.  Normally, she reads a few then turns out her light and goes to sleep.

But not tonight.  Tonight, it seems, she got out of bed and got down her piggy bank (which is actually an old spaghetti jauce jar that we throw our old change in) and decided to "play with her money," which is something she's been interested in lately.  I didn't know this was going on.  I figured she was reading, or already asleep.  It was quiet in there.  Also, I have to say I might not have been too worried about it if I had.  You can be horrified if you like.  You can assume I'm the worst parent ever if you need to.  But, really, Addie's not a kid who puts small stuff in her mouth just messing around.  She has played with her money jar before (albeit when one of us is in the room); she usually counts the coins, throws them around on the floor, puts them in the jar and pours them back out, and that's it.

Except that's not it, is it?  Tonight, it seems that she got that old jar down out of her closet, and decided to put a coin (coins?) into her mouth, and swallowed one (or more?).  The one she choked on was a quarter.

By the time I got to her, she was red-faced and bug-eyed, terrified.  How did I get so incredibly, incredibly lucky, I wonder, that she was able to get out a scream before the thing closed off her windpipe?  Because if she hadn't got out that scream, it would be quiet in there now, and we wouldn't know a thing until morning.

After the quarter popped out, I lost it, of course, rocking her back and forth and sobbing, probably scaring the shit out of her, though not more than she already had been.  I frantically sweeped up that money and hid that jar in the highest recesses of my closet (it will disappear tomorrow, believe me) and then rocked her and sobbed some more and made her promise she would never ever put money in her mouth again.

There's all sorts of stuff I could write, like about how these things happen in an instant, an instant, and how death and danger seem to always be lurking, waiting to snatch your happiness away, or about how insane it is that I would ever let a jar of money, a jar of choking hazards, for Christ's sake, just sit on a shelf in my three-year-old's closet, as if I had a death wish for her or something.

But those things are only half-truths.  Some disasters take eons to unfold and go on and on.  Life is strangely safe, too, despite those lurking dangers, and I don't wish to live my life--or teach my girls to live theirs--as if we were constantly under siege.  I'm not interested in teaching them to skydive anytime soon, or anything, and yes, I will be a little insane about choking hazards from now on.  I will readjust what I trust Addie to do and not do.  But I will not be zipping the girls into plastic bubble tents, either.  I will let them run and get scraped knees, and taste dirt, and put their shoes on backwards. 

As for tonight, I think when I stop feeling so scared, I will just feel grateful.  For that scream.  For the Heimlich Maneuver working.  For my girls, who are living in this world, safe as I can make it.  For the reminder that my girl is only three, and that shiny things are too inviting to resist, and need to be put away for now.  Grateful that this was a lesson and not a tragedy.  That is the best I can do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wet Pants and Pasta Dreams

Man.  Poor little bean. 

When Nolie was first born, everybody kept asking how Addie was handling the change.  "Fine!"  I kept saying.  "Mostly, she ignores her, but she seems to love her, too."  Addie started school right around the time Nolie was born, too, and was also in the thick of the two's, so at the time it was hard to know if the tantrums and the utter refusal to potty train was a reaction to the big changes in her life, or just sort of a typical evolution for her.

I guess I'm thinking now they were pretty strong reactions to the big changes.  I suppose at the time, I expected to see more obvious signs of distress, if indeed she was experiencing it.  If she didn't like Nolie being there, I guess I thought she'd be hitting her, or biting her, or saying she hated her.  You know, obvious signs of "what the hell is this new stinky crying thing doing in my house and making my mom tired and grouchy and busy for?"  If going to a new school for three full days a week was a difficult transition, I naively thought Addie would say something like, "I hate school!  I'm never going back there!"

Nah.  Instead, she pooped on her bed and spread it on the walls.  She'd pee on the couch, on purpose.  She had wailing, screaming tantrums and night terrors.  I don't think I consciously understood any of this as being connected at the time.

But it's getting clearer to me now, after having made this move and with Addie being at a transitional daycare while we're waiting for her new school to open for the summer.  She's waking at night now, again, sweaty and trembling from nightmares where boys with big, white eyes are eating all her pasta.  She's had one or two potty accidents every day for the last few days.  She clings to me, following me everywhere I go.  These could be normal developmental hiccups, but I'm guessing they're probably closely related to these big life changes. 

Little sweet-pea. 

This is all normal, I know.  My first instinct is to protect her from every last thing.  I was cleaning her room the other day and thinking about the previews for the movie Bug that have been on t.v. (it looks terrifying!).  I thought to myself, if I could prevent her from ever seeing a scary movie in her life, I would.  But then it occurred to me that, after a certain age, that's not a choice I get to make, or even should make.  And protecting our kids from every last thing isn't doing them any favors, anyway.  I know that.

Still, when she wanders, sobbing, into the hall at night, crying out "Mama!" I still leap out of bed, heart pounding, just as I did when she cried in the night as a newborn, wanting to be fed.  It will be hard to adjust that instinct, to let her feel her fears, seek out adventure, and test her boundaries. 

I think, too, about all those parents all around the world who are faced with not being able to protect their kids from horrible things, horrible losses, horrible pain.  And I know, to some extent, the fact that I think I can protect Addie from everything is itself an illusion.  Life will be lived, in all its gorgeousness and hideousness, and it's not my job to flatline that for either of my girls.

The rain and wind rage outside now; the turtledove that was perched on the tree branch outside my office window earlier has sought shelter somewhere else, and the family of bunnies that lives in our backyard is huddled under the deck, waiting for this spring storm to pass.  I know that it will.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Love and the Love


First, let me just say that purchasing a Costco-size bag of Hershey's miniatures is not conducive to reaching my summer weight-loss goals. 

Second, I haven't been writing much about Addie lately, but there has been this major transformation that has happened really slowly.  Now that it has occurred, however, it is hitting me in the face.  Or, I should say, kissing me in the face.  It is this:  Addie has been climbing the heights of Mount Adorable.  She is swimming the seas of the Affectionate Ocean.  She has, in short, turned into a little lovebug.

It's not as if she was cold before.  She always took hugs and cuddling, but I was typically the one to offer them and she sort of grudgingly put up with them.  She didn't seem to really seek them out.  This made me sad at first.  I remember when Addie weaned from breastfeeding at six months.  She was so tired of having to look at me.  She wanted to see the world, wanted to roll around, bottle clutched firmly in her fat little pop-on hands.  Little Miss Independent never really looked back after that.

Until now.  Now she takes my face in her hands at night after story time and looks me in the eye, saying solemnly, "Mommy, you are such a good mommy."  Now she emphatically asserts, "Mommy, I love you!"  Now she trounces into the room, declaring, "I have an idea!  How about a big family hug?"  Then we must all form a tight little circle and exchange kisses and squeezes, which freaks Nolie out, seeing as she's her own Miss Independent, simultaneously reaching her arms out to be picked up, then pushing me away once she's there.

This is all fantastic, really.  I love the affection, the butterfly kisses, the long cuddles and hugs and pronouncements of love.  I'm glad that, at last, it seems my daughter notices that I exist in a way that is somehow separate from her own being.  It is nice to not be taken for granted.

I wonder when the next stage will occur.  Do you remember it, the next moment of individuation, the moment when you saw your mother as removed from you, and hated her for it?  I remember it.  I was maybe around 10, and was watching my beautiful mom put on make-up in the bathroom, and felt as if I was seeing her for the first time.  I think it was the first time I really realized I didn't look like my mom, wasn't my mom, was a different person from her.  And it made me mad.  Those were probably the beginnings of adolescence right there.

So for now, I'll try to also enjoy it when Addie wraps herself around my ankle as I'm trying to move about the house.  I'll try to appreciate it when she won't let me go up the stairs without her.  And I'll just choose to believe every little sweet, love-filled, adoring thing she says to me now. 

Can such things be banked?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Puddin Baby


Nolie can pull herself up into a sit now, and we're guessing it'll be any day before she's completely mobile.  Then things will get very, very busy.

I remember this age being most difficult with Addie.  The minute she turned 8 months, all she wanted to do was to be propped up so that she could practice her standing and walking.  Any minute of the day that you weren't holding her up by your pointer fingers was a minute she was squawking her head off.  In fact, I remember feeling that from 8 months until about 18, I felt very frustrated with the whole parenting thing.  Newborns demand a lot of attention, but it's a different sort of attention than a toddler.  Toddler attention felt much more frustrating.  And I couldn't watch Sex and the City the whole time, either, like I did when Addie was a newborn, being that toddlers are a little more impressionable and all.  So mostly I was just bored out of my skull, pulling this kid up, sitting her down.  Up, down, up, down.  Holy yawnsville.

With Nolie, though, it's different.  She's an easy-going baby, for one thing, at least around me.  She will sit by herself for pretty long stretches, playing and talking.  She loves to be walked around in the sling, loves to be played with, but doesn't seem to demand it the way Addie did.  She eats easy and sleeps easy.  I don't feel so exasperated with the age as I did with Addie.

I'm sure there are many reasons for this, not least of all is that we have just mellowed out ourselves, and aren't so over-the-top worried about whether Nolie is getting the exact number of minutes of attention per day that she's supposed to have, or fretting over every developmental milestone's exact passage.  For example, I gave Nolie a graham cracker today, and she ate it by herself, no problem.  "Huh," I wondered to myself.  "I wonder how long she's been able to do that," then shrugged and went on my way.  With Addie I would have been timing the cracker's exact moment of insertion and ingestion success rate. 

In fact, I'm really enjoying this age with Nolie.  I can't get over her roundness, her softness, her delight at seeing me.  I love the way she chases after Addie, belly laughing at her every odd expression.  I love the way she eats and babbles and plays.  Maybe it's because she's my last baby, or because she is an easier baby, or because I am a different person, but 9 months seems to me the perfect age.  I want her to walk, but not too fast.  I want to see her grow, but not too soon.  Her babyness, her babyness, slipping through my fingers, it is.  And then where will I be?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Career Musings

I'm back at work today, and am trying to adjust to the idea that I will, from now on, no longer have summers off.

God, I'm a whiny mcwhinikins.  There is, like, a whole nation of people who work through the summers.  What's my problem?  And, to top it off, I really only will be working 3 days a week for the next few months.  So I'm not really back at work, the way a whole lot of other people are.

But why compare myself to everyone else?  I really have liked having summers off, have needed the time to refuel.  I'm going to miss it, goddammit.  Furthermore, I'm not paid to work during the summer:  I'm on a nine-month contract.  And also, this country is crazy insane when it comes to working so much all the time.  What are we trying to prove?  That we are the most productive nation on earth?  Or are we just lost as a people, unable to be with ourselves outside the framework of the career?

What am I trying to prove, is more like it.  The whole tenure-track thing may become a reality after all, and I wonder what I'm getting myself into.  I mean, I want it, feel like I've been working for it for all this time.  I'm ready to do the research, do the writing.  I'm ready to be judged by a panel of my quirkiest peers.  But there is a whole life I'll be leaving behind and, quite honestly, I will miss it a little.  Because if this summer is any indication, being on the tenure-track is a year-round gig.  There ain't no summers off, no more.

Being paid more won't hurt.  Being recognized for the work I do won't, either.  Being away from my kids will, but it already does, and it's a trade-off I'm usually willing to negotiate. 

I guess I just want to remember to keep checking in with myself, to make sure this is, indeed, what I want, and that my family is stronger and saner with me working than not.  Right now, I know the answers to these questions.  But as time goes on, the answers and maybe even the questions will shift.  

Okay.  Back to the work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bone Tired


We've been falling into bed every night, exhausted and happy, at about 9pm.  I think I can speak for Eric when I say we are bone tired, that we understand what that expression means after this week.  Moving boxes, furniture, and small mammals from room to room of this house has been exhilarating and exhausting.  We have been in our own little vortex, shut off from the world as we make our little nest.

That's maybe not exactly true, as I think about it.  Eric's been going to work, and I've been trying to stay on top of the thousand little tasks it takes to wrap up a semester and pull summer projects into line.  But I certainly haven't been possessed by work the way I usually am.  Instead, I'm thinking about where such-and-such a picture should be hung, or I'm losing whole minutes, gazing out my office window at the giant oak, pine tree, aspens that live there.  I wrote a poem once about someday wanting a room where a pine tree's boughs brushed against the frame of my window, and now I have it.  I don't know what to do with this fact, the fact of this dream come true.

Tired as we've been, Eric says my sleep has been active.  I bolted up in bed a few times the other night, shaking him and asking him if he was alright.  I'm sure this is for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest thing is that along with being deliriously happy to be in this new space, I'm also terrified of losing it all.  I find my thoughts drifting more frequently to my old friends, the disaster fantasies.  The better things get for us, the higher the stakes.  I envision one of us being hit by a car, taking ill, being lost.  Then what will this new house mean?  Nothing. 

The reason it is so great here is because it makes it possible for us to be together in a better way.  The bigger family room, the yard off the kitchen, the open spaces and parks and lakes around us, all make spending time together easier, more relaxed, more enjoyable. 

That said, it is still the burbs.  We got the local newspaper a few days ago, and the cover story complained mightily about property taxes going up by a whole $100 over five years just to fund education, of all things.  Those bandits in the liberal congress dare charge us to provide a good education to our kids?  The outrage.  And most vehicles in our neighborhood are GINORMOUS SUVs, with American flags flying from the hoods and Jesus fish swimming along back bumpers.  Eric and I have a bet going about when we'll see our first confederate flag or pickaninny lawn jockey.

The people on our cul-de-sac are extremely nice.  They've all told us what a great place this is to raise kids, and they seem genuinely pleased that we've moved into this house.  But what if we had been a couple of color?  If we flew atheist flags from the hood of the Hyundai?  Or painted the house a lovely shade of lavender?  Tough to know. 

This post has taken me eons to write, what with all the staring out the window I've been doing.  The new dishwasher is about to be delivered, and I'm off to pick up a double jogger, a steal from Craig's List.  Perhaps this will be what unites us most clearly with our new neighbors:  our consumerism.  The Whirlpools, the Subarus, the Gap bags.  Maybe we're not so different as we think.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Addi doesn't have "chicken pops" after all.  It turns out she developed a violent allergy to the antibiotics she was on for the ear infections, and that it caused her to break out in hideous hives, and for her little hands and feet to swell up like balloons.  And she had no idea what was happening to her.  "Mama!  My hands and feet hurt a lot!" she'd cry, waddling to me on her little hamhock feet.  "When am I going to turn into chicken pops?" she'd ask.  I have no idea what she had envisioned--that she was going to, in fact, become a chicken? 

Anyway, the hives are starting to go away, and the swelling is going down.  She's eating again and is in much better spirits.

And, by some miracle, we are all moved into our amazing new house.  I look out my windows and see beautiful trees and mountains and green space (which, okay, also happens to be cemetary land.  But who cares?  The dead people are quiet).  Addie can run around outside all day if she wants, and there is so much room for all of us to live together and play and not step on each other every minute.  The kids have a play area where they actually play!  There is a great room so I can keep an eye on the kids while I cook!  We have a deck!

Things, really, are so, so great.  It scares me a little, if I'm honest, because I think deep down I still wonder if I "deserve" such a life.  I don't even like framing it that way--everyone deserves comfort and happiness, of course.  But this is like some amazing dream has come true, and I'm not exactly even sure how it all happened.  I'm trying to accept and affirm it, mostly, but am still afraid that it will all disappear somehow.  That we have tempted fate too much?  I don't know.  I'm in my new, huge office, listening to Eric and Addie chase each other around in the great room downstairs, and just feeling like all is good, for us, in this moment.

I drove back to the old house once more today to clean up the massive amounts of cat hair floating around once all the furniture that had anchored it down was removed, and to say my goodbye.  As I was getting in the car to leave, a bee divebombed my face, and I ducked my head to miss it.  At that same moment, the heavy car door swung shut, and I knocked my head against the top of the driver's side window, on my ear.  This hurt like a son of a bitch, and I found myself doing an owie dance, like Addie does when she gets hurt.  Then I noticed much blood pouring from my ear, and got scared and woozy, not from blood loss but because I had to figure out what to do.  Stay in Denver and get stitches, losing precious time and money?  Or drive back to Arvada, dripping blood all over from a huge gash in my ear?

The Van Gogh in me won out.  I headed back to Arvada and have a giant tissue plastered to the side of my head as we speak.  I feel all soft and vulnerable, reminded that my body is indeed made of flesh and bone, is permeable.  And also grateful that this was the worst to happen around this move--everything else was so amazingly easy.  A little gash in the ear is a small price to pay.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Chicken Pops

Ah, well.  Things couldn't go smoothly forever.  It appears that mere hours before we are supposed to close on both houses, Addie has developed a case of the chicken pox (which she is calling the "chicken pops," conjuring up visions of tiny little poultry-flavored lollipops). 

Eric has never had it.

God DAMN it.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Patience is a Virtue

Ernesto, the Amazing Dining Room Tree 

We went to do our final walk through at Zang today.  Addie and Eric played in the little fort in the yard, and Nolie and I lay on the porch while she drank her bottle.  I felt so peaceful there, looking up at the sky from our porch, surrounded by huge, old-growth trees, at the house that will soon be ours.  I patted the tree in the dining room, dreamed about where my desk would go, about tucking Addie into her new bed in her new room at night.

There seems to be so much work between us and moving into that new place--the moving and the cleaning and the unpacking.  And I need to finish grading and prep for a meeting next week, too.  But I'm so looking forward to getting in there, and futzing with where everything is going to go, and with making plans for what we'll work on first.  I'm excited to be out of debt (other than this new, big mortgage, and student loans, of course, but I think of those as good debt.  Cheap debt.  Is that self-delusional?).  I'm excited for our vacation in June, for the new space this house gives all of us, for our neighborhood with its horses and sheep and fresh eggs for sale down the street. 

Today, I'm wandering around this old house, cleaning things up and packing things away, and silently saying goodbye to each crooked old wall, each splintered window casing, each notch in the hardwood floor.  I'm like a kid before a very big Christmas, impatient and flush, and so am busying myself with little tasks and the girls, and trying not to get too overwhelmed with the thrill of it all.

48 hours to go.  Not that I'm counting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Swing Low

On the way from school today, Addie said, "Mama, let's sing a song."

"What song, Addie?"

"Swing Low."

Okay.  So we start the duet.  I have to stop half way through, because here is what she is singing:

"Swing low, feet cherry up, comin fore to cherry me home...."

Also, her favorite friend at school is this little boy named William.  She wouldn't leave school today until he had given her a big hug.  We were in a hurry, so I was calling for William to come and give Addie a hug so we could get out of there, and lo and behold, that little devil comes over and plants the biggest, wettest, longest kiss on Addie I've ever seen.  Then, of course, all the kids wanted to come over and kiss Addie goodbye.  I had to throw her over my shoulder and bat at all the crazy kissing toddlers just to get her out of there.

Three has got to be the best age ever.

Gwen and Addie

Volley Up


Oh man, am I gonna be sore tomorrow.  Summer league volleyball started tonight, and I had a total blast.  And am going to be completely wrecked tomorrow.

I played volleyball in college.  I wasn't very good or anything--I basically walked on and bothered the coach until he gave me an eensy-teensy little scholarship (which, if I remember, is how I got most of my scholarships in college).  I'm not very tall, and my nickname was "Spaz."  My school was NAIA, and I only played for two years because my third year I studied abroad, then graduated early.  So, basically, I kinda sorta played college volleyball.  Whatever.  I loved it.  I loved playing, loved my team, loved traveling.  When I graduated, I really, really missed it.  But I didn't play again for over ten years.

Then, two years ago, I signed up to sub for a league.  I wasn't sure I'd even know how to play anymore, so I didn't want to fully commit to a team.  Nobody called me, so I just started wandering around the park looking for teams who needed a fourth player, and stepped into a few games. 

I left that night walking on air.  It wasn't like I completely kicked ass, but I hadn't made a fool out of myself either.  And I had fun

I couldn't play last summer because I was hugely pregnant with Nolie, but when a team I used to sub with called to see if I wanted a permanent spot this year, I jumped on it.

"But you're so busy," Eric said, raising his eyebrows.  "And we're moving.  Are you sure you want to play now?"

Yes, yes, and yes. 

The girls on my team, Esther and Becca, call me "Mama," which makes me laugh.  Because when I'm out there flailing around on the court, I totally forget I have two little kids.  I forget I'm 32.  It doesn't matter that I pee my pants a little when I swing too hard, or that my knees ache for days after playing, or that I'm a little chub-chub around the middle.  I feel like I'm 18 again, no responsibilities, no cares, no cellulite.  I'm transported and transformed.

We lost pretty bad tonight.  Most teams have two guys and two girls; we have three girls, and our guy didn't show.  So we were at a disadvantage.  Esther and Becca were pretty bummed when we lost all three games.  But I was smiling and laughing the whole time.  I was just happy to be outside on the wet grass, in the cool air, running around like an idiot, and playing as hard as I could.  Winning just wasn't the important thing for me.  Not even close.

That said, we are going to cream them next time.  Smile